Pete Williams, Deloitte Australia

As one of Australia’s leading experts in digital culture and trends, Pete Williams is amazed at the possibilities and promises of bitcoin.

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“My job is almost a bit like a futurist, so I was aware of bitcoin coming up. I wrote a paper 18 months ago called The Future of Exchanging Value. In it, we looked at the way that new forms of currency and value exchange were taking place. I delved deeper into bitcoin at that point.”

Pete Williams is just as comfortable out in the paddocks with his horses as he is in a board meeting engaging us with data about the Australian Shift Index. As the Chief Edge Officer for Deloitte Centre for the Edge, Pete studies emergent technologies and their effect on communities. We had a sit down with him at Teamsquare, a co-working space for start-ups.

He’s interested in anything that uses a network effect to decentralise what are traditionally hierarchical models. Pete reflects that before bitcoin there was no way to do peer-to-peer micro transactions. Everything had to go through a central body. He thinks Bitcoin is the first form of currency that is truly designed for the connected world.

“I’ve always been interested in anything that I saw that was decentralised and not controlled but really open for the rest of the world.”

His daughter is about to travel to Europe and knowing that he can send her bitcoin instantly any time of the day or night means a lot to him.

From the comfort of an oversized wooden lawn chair he takes us through the role bitcoin plays in his life. “At the moment, I’ve just bought some bitcoins because I felt that you can’t really learn anything about something if you don’t get your hands dirty and do it. So I just bought some. I can probably say that I’m a speculator.”

His attention shifts slightly and he talks more about a hypothetical situation that’s close to his heart. His daughter is about to travel to Europe and knowing that he can send her bitcoin instantly any time of the day or night means a lot to him. In an emergency situation, sending bitcoin is the simplest solution. “If I did it through my normal bank account, even though we bank with different banks, it takes 24 hours for money to transfer. So for me the easiest, quickest way of getting some value or currency in her hand in 10 minutes or less would be to move bitcoins.”

Technologies like bitcoin give these people the ability to benefit from digital money and the quality of life that comes with it.

Pete’s job is to be an observer and an instigator of change. In bitcoin he sees the potential for a big shift in the way money moves around the world. Bitcoin is so much more than a way to send funds to his kids. He knows it has huge impacts for the under-banked.

“Different countries have different restrictions around movement of value or cash. I believe that we’re in a much more global world now as opposed to the old world being divided by maps. In this digital world, maps don’t have a role. It’s this virtual connectivity. I think that having the ability to move money around to whom and how you choose is something that is very democratising.”

Around the world entire economies fall below the poverty line and are unable to meet the identification requirements needed to get a bank account. Technologies like bitcoin give these people the ability to benefit from digital money and the quality of life that comes with it. “I think bitcoin is just another example of how a decentralised model can empower people who may not otherwise have access to financial systems.”

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